Army seeks Leeward Coast residents' input on marine life off Makua Valley

Published: Oct. 25, 2012 at 1:29 AM HST|Updated: Oct. 25, 2012 at 3:20 AM HST
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Michelle Mansker
Michelle Mansker
Cathie Alana
Cathie Alana
Warren Hoohuli
Warren Hoohuli

WAIANAE, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - What's the in waters off Makua Valley, where the U.S. Army held live-fire military exercises for several years? The Army is now trying to find out by asking those who actually live in the area.

The Army is trying to determine what kinds of resources, other than fish or shellfish, are used. This includes limu or seaweed, octopus, or other marine life used as food or for other purposes.

"We could go ahead and pretend that we know what the people eat and use out here and probably fail miserably in the process, or we could come and actually ask the people who live in this coastline what they eat and use," said Michelle Mansker, chief of the compliance branch for the U.S. Army.

The Army is conducting a Marine Resources Study, which was ordered by a federal district court earlier this year. The first part of the study involves asking leeward residents to fill out a survey to tell the army what they eat and use from the area.

"They actually go out there, so they know the conditions, they know the species, they know the usage, and that's important for people to know," said Cathie Alana of the Waianae Community Information Council.

"I do dive out there and I do find bullet shells and bullets until today," said Waianae resident and waterman Warren Hoohuli. "Even though they get the big surf, that still comes in no matter what."

The Army plans to use the survey to identify which species near Makua Valley and beach are used the most, and then next year, scientifically determine whether or not the exercises have affected those species, and could pose a health risk.

Even critics of the military's use of the valley hope the survey will ensure that the Army does the right thing.

"It's respecting the aina and respecting the ocean, the kai, and a lot of our foods still come from both of those areas," said Alana.

The Army will accept the surveys through October 31. Hard copies are available at the Waianae Small Boat Harbor and the Waianae Library. An online survey is also available by clicking here.

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